Hoops on the horizon: Looking live one last time

WASHINGTON — Brent Musburger announced this week that the Jan. 31 game between Georgia and Kentucky will be his final one behind the mic, ending a career in the national sports spotlight that began in the ’70s when he hosted the NFL Today.

For fans of a certain age, autumn Sundays meant a 12:30 p.m. ET appointment with Brent, Irv, Jimmy the Greek and Phyllis George. He took over Final Four announcing duties from Gary Bender in 1985 as the NCAA Tournament was taking off and is believed to have coined the term “March Madness.”

In addition, the guy simply dominated the ’80s. NBA Finals? College Football’s biggest games? Brent was there … looking live. While he carved out a nice post-CBS career as ABC/ESPN’s voice for college football and basketball, ’80s Brent was the announcer you wanted to watch and the announcer you dreamed of becoming. Here’s looking live at you one more time, Brent.


9 p.m.

VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10) vs. Dayton (15-4, 6-1), ESPN2. Can they fly Brent in to Richmond for the game? First place in the A-10 is up for grabs, make no mistake about it. Defense has been the difference in both teams, as the Flyers and Rams rank 1-2 in the conference in fewest points allowed. Check out the point guard battle here: JeQuan Lewis may average 14 points and five assists for VCU, but Dayton has a kid named Scoochie Smith. On name value alone that has to count for something. The senior also torched the Rams for 29 points the last time he faced them.


1 p.m.

George Mason (13-7, 3-4 Atlantic 10) at UMass (12-9, 2-6). The Patriots have to shrug off an 87-68 loss at home to George Washington … and quickly. The Minutemen lead the A-10 in lowest field goal percentage allowed and are second in defending the three, and Mason just shot 1-for-8 from outside the arc in their loss to the Colonials. UMass is also the only team to beat Dayton in league play thus far this winter. GMU’s best win is a road triumph at Richmond. Can they continue to shine away from Fairfax?

2:15 p.m.

Maryland (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) at Minnesota (15-6, 3-5), ESPN2. Williams Arena is one crazy place to play. Vanderbilt is perhaps the only other major school that has a similar home court advantage. That said, the Golden Gophers have lost four straight, and what appeared to be a fight for first place in the conference has turned into the Terrapins visiting the site of last winter’s worst loss. Remember when the winless-in-the-conference Gophers beat a stacked Maryland team with Final Four hopes? The Terps who returned this season haven’t either. Minnesota features a fine point guard in Nate Mason, who is second in the Big Ten in assists. While the Terrapins counter with a “double-barrel” offense of Melo Trimble and Anthony Cowan, where each can and will direct the attack. Maryland may be unbeaten on the road, but now that school is in session they’ll finally get to meet the opposing students in the Big Ten.

4 p.m.

George Washington (11-9, 3-4 Atlantic 10) vs. Saint Louis (6-14, 2-6). Consecutive wins have the Colonials getting off the mat … and the Billikens despite their recent road win at George Mason are definitely not world-beaters this winter. Don’t expect a ton of style points in Foggy Bottom: GW’s 13th in the A-10 in shooting while Saint Louis is last. Both teams also have trouble taking care of the ball as each has turned the ball over 285 times this season (tied for second most in the conference behind Duqesne). Neither defense takes advantage of opponents miscues both teams are near the bottom of the A-10 in steals.

Navy (11-10, 6-3 Patriot League) vs. Holy Cross (11-11, 5-4). Make no mistake about it, there is no hotter team in the Patriot league than the Midshipmen. Six straight wins have turned the winter around and Navy is tied for second place halfway through the league season. Shawn Anderson won’t need to score 30 like he did against Army last weekend, but he’ll need to better his previous performance against the Crusaders: zero points on one missed shot over 26 minutes in a 51-50 loss Jan. 2. Malachi Alexander led Holy Cross with 17 points that night and is coming off a 20-point performance in a loss to Loyola-Maryland.

Howard (5-15, 2-3 MEAC) vs. Savannah State (8-12, 5-2). Just when you thought the Bison were back on track, they deliver a clunker like Monday’s 74-39 loss at North Carolina Central. You want to say that the 28 percent shooting from the field was an aberration against a better team (the Eagles are second in the league), but the Tigers are not far behind UNCC. Troyce Manassa and Dexter McClanahan provide a 1-2 punch on the perimeter that may have Howard going dizzy by the end of the afternoon. To say the Bison need better ball movement would be an understatement: The team’s 8.4 assists per game rank 351st (dead last) in Division I.

6 p.m.

Richmond (12-8, 6-2 Atlantic 10) vs. Duquesne (9-12, 2-6). The “other” school in the Commonwealth’s capital boasts the most efficient offense in the A-10 (leading the league in assist-to-turnover ratio) and a matchup nightmare in “point-forward” T.J. Cline. The Dukes have dropped four straight, three by double figures. Two of their top three scorers (Mike Lewis II and Isiaha Mike) are freshmen, and league play on the road is doubly cruel to its young.

8 p.m.

Georgetown (11-10, 2-6 Big East) at No. 11 Butler 18-3 (7-2), CBS Sports Network. Hinkle Fieldhouse was the site of the Indiana State Championship that you remember seeing in “Hoosiers.” The Bulldogs are 11-0 in that building this season. The Hoyas are coming off an upset win over 16th ranked Creighton (albeit a weakened one minus Maurice Watson Jr. and his 9 assists per game) but have not won consecutive conference games in over a calendar year. Coach John Thompson III’s team took Butler to overtime earlier this month in D.C. and that was with Rodney Pryor shooting 0-for-8 from the field. What hurt the Hoyas that day was the Bulldogs hitting 10 of 20 three-pointers. Ball security will be a pivotal: Butler leads the Big East in turnover margin while Georgetown ranks 9th in the conference.


1 p.m.

No. 12 Virginia (16-3) at No. 1 Villanova (19-2), FOX. Even with the Wildcats loss to Marquette, this is a major interconference matchup worthy of Brent and Billy Packer or at least Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery. Prepare for some top-notch perimeter play: UVA leads the ACC in three-point shooting while Villanova leads the Big East at defending the three. The Cavaliers will have their hands full with Josh Hart, while the Wildcats have to contend with London Perrantes (who’s taken the team on his back in ACC play by averaging 15 points per game against league foes) The big question for UVA: Which Isaiah Wilkins will we see? The big man who notched 13 points and nine rebounds against Notre Dame or the kid who was held to five points and four rebounds in 29 minutes in the loss to Florida State? Just as important, will Jack Salt be able to contain Villanova big man Darryl Reynolds (71 percent shooter but a footnote in the offense)?

2 p.m.

American (5-15, 2-7 Patriot League) vs. Colgate (6-16, 4-5), CBS Sports Network. Consecutive losses have the Eagles tied for last place in the conference; and after facing the Raiders, AU has to deal with the meat-grinder that is Bucknell-Lehigh-Boston University (combined 20-7 in league play). Coach Mike Brennan’s team won the January matchup in overtime thanks to solid play from freshmen Mark Gasperini and Sy’eed Nelson. Colgate also turned the ball over 17 times in that game. AU could use more of the same Sunday.

6:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech (15-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. Boston College (9-12, 2-6), ESPNU. What is it with the Sunday evening window and the Hokies? They’re here again, and instead of Clemson it’s a duel against another sub-500 ACC team in the Eagles. Virginia Tech was crushed on the boards in their loss at No. 9 North Carolina 43-22. While nobody’s even close to the Tar Heels on the glass in the ACC this winter, Tech will have to fare better against the BC bigs. The Eagles have lost four in a row but boast guard Jerome Robinson — the 6-foot-5 sophomore is third in the league in scoring at 20 points per game. With two games against Virginia over the next three weeks, the Hokies can ill afford a stumble to their former Big East foe.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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